As I sat eating dinner, I reflected on my recent work. Working the near-equivalent of two full-time jobs had been taxing. Now, there will be time to cook, not reheat. I had missed the creative and relaxing process of considering the topic, the food, and capturing moments. Coinciding with the reduced workload was the last CSA distribution! My favorites were there: butternut squash and sweet potatoes. Their presence meant butternut squash soup and the opportunity to try a sweet potato pound cake recipe.
In preparation for making butternut squash soup, I began what was ultimately a short search for a new recipe. The first cookbook, Mr. Sunday’s Soups by Lorraine Wallace, featured a butternut squash chowder. Each necessary ingredient, was in the pantry. The next day, my version was simmering on the stove.
To make the soup, add bacon to a Dutch oven or deep pot and cooked until crisp. As the bacon sizzles in the pan, chop the onions and celery. Once the bacon is cooked, remove and drain. Remove most of the bacon drippings until 1 Tablespoon remains. Add the onion, celery, bay, and sage. Careful and thorough stirring is needed to ensure the ingredients are properly coated and do not burn. Once a few minutes have ticked away, add peeled and diced potatoes and stir to
incorporate. After 10 or 15 minutes, add a cup of chicken stock. While waiting for the stock to heat, use a flat-edge wood spatula to scrape the pan bottom of any cooked-on bits. Add the remaining chicken stock and bring to a boil. Meanwhile process the squash through a food mill to ensure a smooth puree.
Once the soup has come to a boil, add the bacon and the squash and reduce the heat to a simmer. Heat until all ingredients are cooked. The time will depend upon the size of the potato and the temperature of the squash. Because the squash I used was still cold, it clung to the potatoes and created beautiful orange pieces, but 10 minutes of additional stove time took care of the lumps.
The original recipe called for cream, but it was not in the pantry, but that was not a problem. This is a soup to love and favor over the standard, somewhat boring, butternut squash soup. If cream is not readily available consider crumbled bacon for color, crunch, and an excuse for more bacon.
For those wishing to reduce or eliminate the use of animal based ingredients, this soup could be easily converted to a vegan delight. Use olive or vegetable to cook the onions, celery, and potatoes, add vegetable broth, skip the cream, and enjoy.